TrueHeartWork | narcissism
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narcissism Tag

Trojan Horses 12

Here It Is

Trojan Horse 3I met an old lady once, almost a hundred years old, and she told me, there are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? And Who’s in charge―Elizabeth Gilbert

We sprinkle the word, empowerment like brown sugar over the snowy dome of a frothy latté. Popular self-help books and magazines deliver fast-fix formulae and labels that hook like velcro—Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Here it is—in bedrooms, boardrooms, in political power-plays, the subtext is: How much do you love me? Who’s in charge?

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The words we use to fight our personal Waterloos so often keep us mired in rigid roles. Our unexamined beliefs about other people’s pre-digested ideas surgically clamp our happiness and self-esteem.

 

We speak of empowering ourselves. Yet, so often standing up for what we believe is right and putting our partner down are part of an outmoded belief that power struggles and relationships are inseparable. How much do you love me? You emotionally disabledco-dependent, narcissist? (Narcissism is a clinical personality disorder that affects a small percentage—one to three, say some sources—of the population.)

In the war about who’s right and who’s wrong, how much you love me and who’s in charge, there’s no room for relationship. Says psychologist, Terry Real, “proving just how right you are can be a tough temptation to walk away from. But relationship grown-ups understand that being right is not the real point. Finding a solution is.”

In his book, The New Rules of Marriage, Real writes, “letting go of the need to be right is a core principle of relationship empowerment: learning to live a non-violent life. Non-violent between you and others. Non-violent between your ears. Scolding your partner as if you were his mother, passing judgement on him, humiliating him. These are all forms of psychological violence.”

hands clasped

Our expectations of relationships have changed exponentially. As we step beyond the confines of the old paradigms of gender based homemaker/breadwinner, women and our men and want intimacy—emotionally, sexually, intellectually and physically. Yet in our patriarchal culture, intimacy is relegated to the feminine principle. Mostly it’s women who embark upon Heroine’s Quest to better their lack lustre relationships. We buy the books and sign up for online offerings. We make the appointments for couples’ counselling.

And yet, so many of us still vacillate between becoming shrilly empowered and/or resigned to the “emotionally disabled” man from Mars. We complain about the state the world is in and continue to pollute our own relationship quantum field with words that nick and scratch and lodge in the sanctum of our lover’s heart.

1190.1“We always marry someone with the purpose of finishing our childhood,” says psychologist Harville Hendrix. And we’re unconsciously drawn to people who will guarantee a re-enactment of the old, familiar relationship dynamics we grew up with.

 

Our challenge is to rewire our brain circuitry with words that heal old wounds.

The astrological Retrograde cycle of Mercury occurs three times every year and moves through the elements of fire, air, earth and water in a procession across the zodiac, alerting us the rhythm of inner reflection that is needed for a more conscious experience of living. Mercury’s realm is magical trans-formation. He was the god of cross-roads and times of transition. Mercury was the only god who travelled back and forth from the Underworld.  stop

Astrological Mercury embodies eons of symbolism that can be traced to the Babylonian, Chaldean, Egyptian mythology and religious systems. A strongly placed Mercury in your birth chart enhances your ability to be humourous and charming. Mercury is the teacher, the comedian, the networker, the communicator, the trickster who brings lightness and laughter and a new perspective to our world. Mercury is also associated with Thoth, the Egyptian god of healing and fertility and it is with our words that we can heal, with our words that we can birth new possibilities. Mercury is an important planet in our birth chart, as he brings information from the unconscious. In these Mercury Retrograde cycles, our perceptions may shift, igniting the creative process, birthing brilliant ideas.Stand by me 1

Right now, we are all, on some level, experiencing a Mercury Retrograde cycle in the fiery sign of Aries—From April 25th to May 11 th , Mercury conjoins Uranus. The planet, Uranus is associated with upheaval, sudden change and with innovation—the Tower card in Tarot. So, our intuition, vision, innovation may be heightened at best. Our reptile brain reactivity may be on full alert at worst—the kind of reactivity based on that old lady’s beliefs about relationship.

Trojan Horses 6Mercury’s Retrograde cycle is an opportunity to be honest with our selves about our style of relating, the part we play in polluting our relationship space. So, how do we conceal our own vulnerability behind the cement wall of intractable beliefs about our partner? How do we own our wants and desires? How do we listen? How do we set boundaries and assert ourselves? How do we back off generously? How do we embrace and accept the relationship we have? How do we actively champion our partner and our relationship?

woman on a road“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature”, says Thich Nhat Hanh. Today, let’s bring new vision, self-reflection and healing to our words. Today, we have a choice to re-write our signature.

Here It Is ~ Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson

 

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Damn You

damn you picWe  talk glibly about someone being “a narcissist.” We detonate the word like a Catherine wheel on Hallowe’en; toss it over our left shoulder like a pinch of salt, and like the origins of Hallowe’en or the ritual of tossing salt over our left shoulder, we’re unaware of the moist kernel of meaning beneath the brittle husk. It’s a label that sticks tenaciously in the Victim Perpetrator model of relationships, and in a culture of self-aggrandisement that puts Self above all other sentient beings. It multiplies like an algal bloom in a culture where we consume other people’s ideas, gobble down advertisers’ enticements. We’re plugged in, eyes down, thumbs moving. Tuned out to silence.
In a particular brand of blame and shame psychology that has lodged unquestioned, unexamined in mainstream consciousness, a narcissist is our boss, our ex, a friend who has offended us in some way. They’re the ones who are utterly self-absorbed, aggressive, and abusive. They’re the cause of our divorce or our unhappiness at work. Despite  popular  assumption, a narcissist does not truly love herself. She doesn’t even know who she is . In her self-absorbed flaunting, in his amplified bravado, in her need to stand apart in her frenzied desire to need to be seen, is an emptiness, an isolation, that echoes pitifully across the babble of voices that tweet and twitter and stare into the glazed eyes of a masturbatory Selfie.
As human populations flourish across the surface of the earth, millions of souls jostle for space, air,work and food in Gotham Cities all over the world. We contract our energy, seal our body space, tune out the noise, the smells, avoid the eyes, the bodies, as we weave and glide over dirty streets, plugged into our I Pods, eyes down, caressing the smooth surfaces of our Tablets.

Therapist Esther Perel suggests that the merge model of relationship is challenging to the Millennials. I would suggest it is challenging to so many who ascribe to The Cult of the Individual. Working in collaboration with someone requires compromise, empathy, and an ability to accept that being “needy or weak or vulnerable” is part of our humanness.

Solitary bliss has an elusive, dreamy quality that advertisers have crafted into a make-believe bubble of desirability, perhaps even mandatory if we are to be normal well adjusted, differentiated human beings. The pursuit of Happiness has become a full-time occupation in the affluent Western World, the belief that we are worth it, that we have the right to have something more.untitled

According to authors of  The Narcissism Epidemic,  Keith Campbell and Jean Twenge, we are living in an age of entitlement. “The symptoms of the disease range from the extreme (hiring fake paparazzi to follow you around for a weekend) to the more ubiquitous, garden-variety solipsism (Twittering what you ate for lunch or hiring a professional photographer to take your Facebook photo). Translated into the realm of romantic relationships, the message comes across as: I’m great, and you’d better be, too.”
Esther Perel elaborates, “the culture of narcissism is about your personal happiness coming first and your partner coming second,” says Esther Perel. She adds, though, “Narcissism is actually a clinical personality disorder affecting 1 to 3 percent of the population, not an occasional attitude.”

We pay lip service to self-esteem with Botoxed lips and smooth shiny foreheads. We still look outside ourselves for validation and approval. And if we don’t get it, well then, damn you! To find ourselves has become the Holy Grail. We meditate, go to therapy, do yoga, with the same zealous application our great grandmothers used to bleach stained linen. We invest time, money and energy into ourselves. Why would we want to share our Obsession with someone else? We follow our bliss with the same single minded blinkered zeal that our forefathers used to hack down the great forests, alter the courses of rivers, decimate, or convert the indigenous inhabitants. Yet in the frenetic rush to get somewhere, be someone, there is no time, no silence to be still and go within.

narcissisFor me, myths and fairy tales are repositories of wisdom. These age-old stories carry the unperturbed truths that ripple through our lives today. They teach us that nothing has changed, nothing is “trending”. And that all our neurosis is just a minute piece in the large tapestry of evolution and transformation. The story of the beautiful youth, Narcissus, is a tale of self-absorption, spurned lovers, arid intellectualism without conversation with the moist wetness of our soul. So the story begins, as so many good stories do, with a concerned mother of an extremely beautiful young boy. She asks the blind prophet Tiresias “will he live to an old age?” to which wise Tiresias replied, “as long as he does not know himself.” So she hides all the mirrors in their home and her precious boy Narcissus grows up to be extraordinarily handsome, adored by all who meet him. Because he has never seen his own face, he depends on the reactions of others to tell him how beautiful and desirable he is.

Positive self-delusion has resulted in evolutionary leaps in technology, science, medicine and commerce. The bleached bones of many narcissists lie loosely in graveyards decorated with flags marked with marble tombstones. Today narcissism is a me-first Ivy-league requirement for Alpha males and females who deftly play the corporate chess game. It’s a must for those who hanker after their fifteen minutes (or more) of fame or infamy.

google glass“A reality shaped around your own desires — there is something sociopathic in that ambition,” writes Zadie Smith in her superbly crafted essay Find Your Beach. Our self-absorbed ambition pushes impatiently through the crowds. Our desires Tweet and Like. Don’t  question.

In doorways and under bridges of our metropolises  the homeless are unseen and unheard. I was struck by the poignancy of a plaque placed on an unremarkable cement bench along the river in Nashville today. I wondered about the woman who chose this name for her baby and the little girl who grew to be Tara Denise Cole, homeless on the streets of this American city. I wondered, did she live and die unseen, unheard, un-reflected in the shimmering green waters of the Cumberland River.a tribute to the homeless

Lana Del Rey – Damn You

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A Mirror Without A Face

I did not recognise her at first. An effigy. A wax-work-woman. Skin taut, lips swollen, blue eyes slanted like Tretchikoff’s Lady from Orient. “I’ve just  had it all lifted. And derma abrasion,” she mouthed through grotesquely swollen lips. “My 14-year-old son didn’t want to be seen with a wrinkly mummy!” A tight, unconvincing laugh came from the hollowness within. The sadism of the narcissist in her vain attempts at marble-like self preservation. A caricature of the eternally youthful Aphrodite, a middle-aged woman lost in a hall of mirrors. Like so many of us, unaware of the beauty of her true face.

We talk glibly about someone being “a narcissist.” We usually take that as meaning he or she is utterly self-absorbed, isolated in her own human subjectivity. For me, myths and fairy tales are repositories of wisdom. These age-old stories carry the unperturbed truths that ripple through our lives today. They teach us that nothing has changed, nothing is “trending”. And that all our neurosis is just a minute piece in the large tapestry of evolution and transformation. The story of Narcissus contains rich food for the hungry soul: Long long ago the concerned mother of an extremely beautiful young boy asked the blind prophet Tiresias “will he live to an old age?” to which wise Tiresias replied, “as long as he does not know himself.” So she hid all the mirrors in their home and Narcissus grew up to be extraordinarily handsome, loved and adored by all who met him. Because he had never seen his own face, he had to depend on the reactions of others to tell him how beautiful and desirable he was, so that he could feel confident.

A narcissist does not truly love herself. In her self-absorbed flaunting, in her exaggeration, her brash insistence on her individuality, she seems to want to stand apart in her desperate need to be seen, to be adored. Says Rilke, “though the reflection in the pool often swims before our eyes: know the image. Only in the dual realm do voices become eternal and mild.”   

We live in a narcissistic world. We shout, “See me!” from the illusive realm of social networking sites. They have a fluid, dreamy quality which is a powerful mirror for our own narcissism – what we present is often an illusion of success, beauty, happiness. In reality, we so often erect boundaries to our loving, hold back our giving. We present faces to the world that are mere masks, covering the  hollowness inside.

The story of the beautiful youth, Narcissus, is a tale of self-absorption, spurned lovers, arid intellectualism without conversation with the moist wetness of our soul. The 2010 documentary, Catfish, depicts the same age-old allegory of deception and artifice that covers the painful void of self-love and stunted life force. The film portrays a romantic relationship between Ariel and Angela who “click” on Face book.

Like so many of us, Angela and Ariel feel the pain of narcissistic wounding and as they dismantle the artifice they have set up and maintained with such dedication, they discover that by failing in fantasy, they have recognised themselves. The documentary reveals the “faces” we present, the pretty plumage we display, so that we may see ourselves reflected in the mirror of approval. We are mesmerized by what we see, yet the self-love and self-acceptance we crave cannot be found outside ourselves. It lies cradled in an introverted place. The process of trans-formation can begin only when we know ourselves, when we ground ourselves in humility. As the desirable “I” crumbles and we are consumed by the fire of authentic self-love, we melt the wax work image and allow our soul to soar out of rigid self-absorption. As Angela and Ariel unmask and begin to know themselves, they, like Narcissus, realise that they have become stuck, on the familiar images – the surface identity, the isolated face we present to the world. They discover that beneath the impenetrable  membrane of narcissism, lives a deep soul in its luminous unfolding, in its infinite potential.

John Bradshaw writes, “Adult children, having long ago buried their authentic selves and lost their sense of I AM ness, cannot give themselves to their partners because they don’t have a self to give.,”  We are conditioned, admonished “not to get big headed”, or “ahead of ourselves”. We are asked “who do we think we are?” Exiled from ourselves, we present our smiling faces, our happy lives to the world, and no-one ever knows the depth of our aloneness and our suffering. “We mistake so much for love – neediness, dependence, mere familiarity. And in reaching out for love, we vanish into projections of who we should be, and how our lives should appear. One day, we wake to face a stranger in the looking-glass – and know that we abandoned ourselves long ago. The before it is too late, we must find our way home – and learn the true meaning of Love” says Gill Edwards.

Only by self-discovery, only by differentiating, only by seeing the otherness in this “dual realm” can we see our true self in the fragile beauty of the little flower of our soul whose roots are deep and whose beauty is grounded in the earth, in the eternal cycles of nature.

Artist: Chen Hongqing. Girl Looking into the Mirror

Royal Wood – A Mirror Without a Face

I keep on running from the buildings tall
The buildings tall surround
Like in a circus oh a circus tent
A circus tent I’m a clown

What good’s a mirror without a face
Without a face

 

 

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